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Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon. (Photo: da.lacounty.gov)

LA County DA’s Office Flees Twitter After Negative Comments about Employees At Pride Parade

‘You don’t win respect by cowardice’

By Evan Symon, June 8, 2023 2:30 am

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon confirmed on Wednesday that his office would no longer have a presence on Twitter following recent comments that Twitter refused to delete from a post on their page, as well as the continued use of “false information.”

While many users have pulled away from Twitter following the $44 billion sale to Tesla CEO Elon Musk last October, many users have opted to stay, including lawmakers, government organizations, and different departments at the local, state, and federal level. Many have noted that a lack of similar options, as well as the need for an instant way to communicate with others, such as in the event of an emergency, has continued to keep Twitter popular despite continued layoffs at the social media company and a possible move out of San Francisco in the near future. Before this week, notable government agencies that have left Twitter since November of last year has included the San Diego City Attorney’s Office.

While the LA County District Attorney’s office has chided Twitter in the past, an incident on Sunday became the impetus for leaving the site on Tuesday. On Sunday, the DA’s office posted a picture of employees attending the West Hollywood Pride parade, including Gascon’s Chief of Staff Joseph Iniguez and director of communications Tiffiny Blacknell. The tweet received dozens of replies, with many calling them gay slurs and using words such as “pedophiles” to describe them. The office quickly contacted Twitter, but after a day of no action, the office took down the Tweet and took the extreme action of leaving the site.

“The Pride Parade post was met with a barrage of vicious and offensive comments that left us deeply troubled,” said Blacknell in a statement on Tuesday. “The comments ranged from homophobic and transphobic slurs to sexually explicit and graphic images, and even after reporting them to Twitter, they remained visible on our account for more than 24 hours. The district attorney’s office will not be complicit and utilize a platform that promotes such hateful rhetoric.”

Gascon confirmed the office leaving Twitter on Wednesday, saying in a tweet that “LADA will no longer be sharing our content on Twitter, full statement attached. We are excited to continue to engage with our diverse and vibrant communities on all other platforms.”

LADA leaves Twitter

In a statement, he added that “LADA will no longer be posting content on this platform. As a prosecutor’s office, we uphold the principles of justice, fairness and equality for all. The rise in unchecked vitriol targeting marginalized communities, false information, lack of community guideline enforcement or mechanisms to otherwise address these issues, has left us with no other choice.

“While we respect the principles of the First Amendment, we also recognize that the comments regularly posted on our Twitter page have violated not only our own standards of conduct, but have had the potential to harm members of our community. As a government agency, we have a duty to promote a safe and inclusive environment, and are unwilling to serve as a space for the dissemination of harmful and hateful content.

“LADA remains committed to transparency and accessibility. Please find us on all other platforms where we will continue to engage with the public at every opportunity.”

While many LGBT groups and other Angelinos applauded the DA’s decision on Wednesday, others quickly chastised the decision, noting that by leaving they would have a harder time fixing the problem they want solved with Twitter, that important DA’s office information would not be seen by many, and that, by removing the office from the site, that those that posted the comments won.

“This is a complete lack of transparency on his part,” said Deputy District Attorney Johnathan Hatami, who is challenging Gascon in the DA’s election next year, in a statement. “George claims responses to the LADA Twitter account are actually ‘harming the community’ If that’s true then maybe as the elected DA, George should do something about that. Running away and hiding from his constituents just shows cowardice on his part. It also doesn’t solve the alleged issues he is claiming to raise. That’s not leadership. The community has a right to know what the DA is or is not doing when it comes to public safety & criminal justice.”

Elena Curry, an elections advisor who focuses on District Attorney races, told the Globe in an interview Wednesday, “This will hurt Gascon more than help. Rather than stay on Twitter and fight the problem, they’re cutting and running on a very weak pretense. Saying ‘We’re not going anywhere’ and posting a big pride flag would have been a much stronger move on their part. A few candidates on the East Coast did that a few years back after getting similar hate on some posts, and they even managed to win over some Republicans just by standing their ground like that.”

“Instead they took their ball and went home. You don’t win respect by cowardice.”

The DA’s office will still be on several social media sites, including TikTok and Instagram.

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Evan Symon
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